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11 November 2022

Missing police details lead to dismissal of assault charges

Saturday 2 March 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National

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Missing police details lead to  dismissal of assault charges

The lack of details in the court case against a man who faced four counts of assaulting a female resulted in the dismissal of two charges against him.

Defence lawyer Norman George, in arguing for the dismissal of three charges of assault on a female against his client, told the court that if the case prepared by police is not good enough then the court should strike it within its legal limit.

George made these comments at the Criminal Court in Avarua for his client Iti-O-Te-Ra Putaura, who appeared before Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro on Thursday.

George said Putaura, who is now a businessman, has been before the court in the last three years fighting against different allegations, and the person who accused him is living with him.

George, in seeking the court’s attention, described how three of the charges had no proper descriptions and explained that this was against Section 16 of the Criminal Procedures Act 1980-81.

He said one of the charges said: on 22nd of November, 2023 at Arorangi; the defendant assaulted a female by punching her. “Punching her where?” he asked.

Another charge read that on the same day, the defendant assaulted a female by hitting her with a right open palm. “Where did it land?” he questioned.

Another charge read, the defendant punched the victim with his left. George asked: “Where did the punch land?”

He said another charge which read that he hit the victim’s left eye with his mobile phone identified the details of the assault. The defendant pleaded guilty to this charge.

George referred to Section 16 of the Criminal Procedures Act which reads: “Every information shall contain such particulars as will fairly inform the defendant of the substance of the offence with which he is charged.”

He said the information should contain sufficient particulars in substance of the offence he is charged for, it is the defendant’s constitutional right.

“Therefore, the other charges have to be dismissed, it is not the prosecution’s fault, if he agrees,” George said.

Police prosecutor, senior sergeant Fairoa Tararo said he would like to go through the legislation and requested time to respond to George’s submission.

George responded that the matters he raised is part of a normal procedure and the request from prosecution is a “tactic” to amend and fix the charges.

“I say the information is before the court, there is grounds for the three charges to be dismissed and it is not to suit the police to fix it. This is a tough JP Criminal Court … You don’t produce court documents according to the law, you miss out.”

He told JP Taoro that she should not allow prosecution’s request and he and his client were ready to proceed with one charge.

JP Taoro agreed that some details were missing from the charges, however, she believed it wasn’t necessary to withdraw all charges based on this.

Police prosecutor Sgt Tararo said they informed George they would withdraw two charges and proceed with the remaining two. He requested a probation report to be prepared for sentencing.

While George agreed and admitted guilt to the two assault charges, he also requested a swift resolution for his client, asking for sentencing to take place immediately.

He argued that a probation report would take three weeks to complete, and since his client was well-known to the court, he was willing to pay thousands of dollars as a fine to settle the matter.

JP Taoro explained that a probation report assisted the court in making informed decisions and adjourned the matter to April 9 for sentencing on the two remaining charges. The other two charges were dismissed.